A Brush With Death

Not ours. Not really.

Last night we were driving back to Gabrovo from Varna. As usual, we left later than we planned and both Nikola and I were quite tired during the drive. On a dark, l0ng stretch of road, Nikola suddenly swerved. I looked up, expecting to see one of the many foxes or other small animals that we had been avoiding during the drive. Instead, through the front window and then out the side window, just a foot from the car, I saw a man.

He stood there, slowly raising his hand towards the car and I felt myself shriek.

“Oh my god!” I screamed. It was one of the few times in my life that my body has acted beyond my control. It felt so awkward and somehow exhilarating to act without planning or considering ahead of time. To simply react.

We missed the guy, thankfully, but he was so close to my window that for the next ten minutes his image was all that I could see. Not too old, not too young. Dirty. Slow.

We should have stopped and helped him get off the road. His slow movements as he moved towards the middle of the road made it seem like he was probably drunk.

But we didn’t stop. Honestly, I was too freaked out. I realize that this is Bulgaria and it was much more likely that he was just some unfortunately drunk man than a psycho killer trying to stop vehicles to find his next victim, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he had been reaching for my door.

Over time our hearts stopped pounding. Guilt set in. We turned the radio up.

Today I am wondering if he is okay. Did he make it to the other side of the road? Did he make it home? Did the next car have a driver who was brave enough to stop for a drunk stranger at 1 in the morning? I hope so.

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